The Italian national team visited Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sunday, a day after securing qualification for Euro 2020.
Roberto Mancini’s team beat Greece 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday, making it seven wins out of seven and guaranteeing the Azzurri top spot in qualifying Group J.
And a day later, the whole squad suited up to visit Pope Francis, presenting him with a personalised Italy national team shirt, with Francis’ actual surname ‘Bergoglio’ on the back.
Pope Francis also greeted the President of the Italian Football Federation Gabriele Gravina, and members of the backroom staff during the approximate 40 minute meeting.
Gravina told the Pope: ‘The national team is a constant symbol of values, a team which people can identify with and take inspiration from.’
The players reportedly had the opportunity to talk to the Pope about a visit to the Bambino Gesu Hospita, a medical facility for children, in the Italian capital.
They had donated a machine to Bambino Gesu which shows tumour cells in the blood of patients.
Italy’s latest qualifying victory was sealed via second-half strikes by Jorginho (from the penalty spot) and Federico Bernardeschi.
After the humiliation of missing out on last year’s World Cup, Italy will now definitely take their place in next summer’s European Championships, taking place across the continent.
Mancini was appointed manager of the national team following the 2018 World Cup qualifying failure, and has won 10 of his 16 matches in charge.